Death of Savita Halappanavar
Sir, – The Trócaire “gifts of change” leaflet fell out of my Irish Times on Friday morning.
One of the gifts one can purchase is the “Gift of safe motherhood” in Somalia and Guatemala. It states, “This gift will ensure the safe delivery of babies and will provide proper medical care for mothers during pregnancy”. It is incredibly sad that pregnant women in this country cannot always expect the same. – Yours, etc,
A chara, – Your Editorial (November 15th) states: “Earlier intervention could have saved her life, and it would have been available to her in many other hospitals (although, for theological rather than medical reasons, not defined as an ‘abortion’).”
Your theological understanding is defective. We speak of “abortion” where the survival of the unborn child is not included in the purpose. Any pregnancy “terminates”, mostly, thankfully, in a live child. Termination of a pregnancy by “earlier intervention”, with the clear aim of the protecting the lives of both mother and child, is not what is usually understood by “abortion”.
In particular cases of earlier intervention, despite the best efforts, it may be sadly the case that the survival of the child, or of the mother, is unlikely or impossible. The Guide for Medical Practitioners speaks of “while making every effort to preserve the life of the baby”. This is not what is usually envisaged by those who wish to legalise abortion. This is not theology, but clear use of language about a situation.
Our Constitution recognises the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect that right. That is humanity, even though 21st-century medicine cannot guarantee the survival of both. – Yours, etc,
A chara, – I feel your use of a question mark in the Editorial headline “An avoidable tragedy?” (November 15th) is entirely inappropriate. – Is mise,
Sir, – Dr Mark Murphy’s assertion (November 15th) that Savita Halappanavar “ died because my (sic) profession have not been sufficient advocates for women in these situations” is ludicrous. That this poor lady died is indeed a tragedy. We do not yet know the circumstances, and must not pre-judge her medical care. Unfortunately, people die needlessly in Irish hospitals on a regular basis, because we have a substandard health system that is largely under-scrutinised.
Apart from maternal mortality, where Ireland has consistently ranked top of the heap, and is alone among such countries in its prohibition of abortion. The inquiry underway into Savita Halappanavar’s untimely death will reveal whether an early induction of delivery of her 17-week-old baby would have altered the outcome or not. Either way, this would not have been an abortion. To state otherwise, and use her death to campaign for abortion is both ignorant and crude. May she rest in peace. – Yours, etc,